The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said Wednesday that it will check whether EVA Airways followed regulations amid concerns that its planes tried to land during a typhoon was "too risky."
The CAA said it will check whether the air carrier has met requirements on landing and take-off standards, fuel and crew members.
It said flights are often affected by unpredictable weather conditions, resulting in delays, cancellation, or flights being diverted to other locations, although the harsh conditions of Typhoon Megi were in fact predicted the night before.
The CAA also said a landing should meet minimum standards on visibility and crosswind speed, and aircraft should carry sufficient fuel reserves to fly to another airport in an emergency.
CAA statistics showed that there were 45 EVA Air flights scheduled to land at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Tuesday, when Taiwan was under the influence of gusty winds and heavy rains brought by Typhoon Megi.
Thirty of the flights actually landed at Taoyuan International Airport, including those that were first diverted to Hong Kong and Okinawa before taking off again and landing in Taoyuan.
But the vast majority landed before 9:30 a.m. or later at night when the winds were said to be weaker.
Seven other planes were diverted to Hong Kong, seven were diverted to Taichung and one was diverted to Macau, the agency said.
Of particular interest are EVA Air flights that landed from 6:36 p.m. to 7:36 p.m. when no other planes were landing at the airport.
Netizens accused the airline of risking the lives of crew members and passengers by flying into Taiwan during the typhoon on Tuesday, and that several crew members were injured after encountering turbulence, but EVA Air said the allegations were untrue and threatened to sue people who spread false rumors.
Yet EVA Air did decide to fly when most other airlines did not.
[From Flightradar 24 website, which shows flights that head to Taoyuan International Airport Tuesday evening. (click for a enlarged version)]
Screen grabs from live flight tracker Flightradar 24 showed the skies over Taiwan on Tuesday afternoon full of EVA Air planes, with only a few aircraft of other carriers on Taiwan's outer periphery.
Flight tracking websites also showed EVA Air planes circling in the air several times waiting for a chance to land at Taiwan's main gateway, Taoyuan International Airport.
Some netizens questioned whether EVA Air should have been flying in the first place, but EVA Air said in a statement that safety is always the highest guiding principle for their planes.
In the event of a typhoon, EVA Air checks with the Central Weather Bureau and the Air Navigation and Weather Services under the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and adjusts or cancels flights based on the weather forecast for each airport, it said.
It contended that all flights on Tuesday did not pose safety risks and were in line with the airport's landing and take-off standards.
Several EVA Air planes did take advantage of the eye of the storm to land at the Taoyuan airport, but according to reports, passengers were kept on two or three of the planes after landing for more than an hour because the wind speed was beyond the maximum allowed for the operation of the jet bridges.
Taiwan's jet bridges are not allowed to be operated in winds greater than 48 nautical miles an hour, and the control tower measured winds in the 49 to 50 nautical mile hour range, preventing the jet bridges from being operated, according to the report.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel